“Finding the CCO’s ministry at Pitt is among the top five best things that ever happened to me in my life,” says Charles Chapman. “All that came out of it and the way God has used it is amazing.”
When Charles Chapman arrived at the University of Pittsburgh for his freshman year, he noticed a huge sign in front of the church across the street from his residence hall, advertising a weekly gathering of Christian college students. That’s how he first got connected to Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, the CCO-sponsored ministry hosted by Bellefield Presbyterian Church.
“When I came to Pitt, I already had an agenda,” Charles says. “I knew that God was calling me to Pittsburgh and that there was work for me to do. I wanted to start a ministry to homeless people, and a month into my freshman year, I met Mike, who also wanted to do that.
That was 2002. Today, Charles is the Community Outreach Coordinator for LIVING Ministry, and Mike Ichimura is the Chief Operating Officer. The L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry —“Love Initiated Ventures Investing in Neglected Groups”—is a nonprofit organization which reaches out to the homeless in Pittsburgh.
Cornerstone Christian Fellowship continues to be the number one source of volunteers for the ministry, years after Charles graduated with his degree in social work. “I was very involved in Cornerstone throughout my college years, but now that I’m out of college, I’m more involved than ever,” he says. Not only does he recruit student volunteers, but he mentors four students intensively, and he occasionally speaks at the large-group meetings.
“Cornerstone gave me a place to grow, to be in Bible study with other guys my age,” he says. “The friends I developed during my freshman year are by best friends now. There were 45 freshmen involved the year I started, and almost all of us are still in Pittsburgh. I met my wife through the fellowship. If not for Cornerstone and the introduction that came between me and Mike as a result, The L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry wouldn’t exist.”
Charles and his wife, Liz, live on Pittsburgh’s North Side, near the headquarters for LIVING Ministry. They are active members of Allegheny Center Alliance Church, participating in Sunday school, choir, and various outreach ministries of this active congregation.
Charles was named one of Pittsburgh Magazine’s “40 under 40″ in 2008, where he was recognized as one of “40 people under the age of 40 who are committed to shaping” the greater Pittsburgh region and “making it a better place for everyone.”